Sam Explains

Endymion – Part 4

This week Sam brings us part four of Dan Simmons’ 1996 book Endymion. It’s been a while, but we’re back with more Hyperion! It’s been so long, in fact, that Danielle has completely forgotten everything that happened in the previous episode including the title, though to be fair, there wasn’t really all that much going on. Raul, Aenea and A. Bettik are all trapped on some mysterious jungle world after barely escaping the Pax by fleeing through the hitherto non-functional Farcaster portal. The Shrike makes a brief cameo, but immediately leaves without dropping any sick beats, which is a huge disappointment. Aenea and crew decide to raft down the river to the next Farcaster, which gives Raul time to feel paternal towards Aenea, which is just all kinds of gross given what we know of their future. They get caught in a storm and “Yee-haw!” a bit, as you do, before finally ending up through the other portal and onto Mare Infinitus. Their big plan is to drift aimlessly across the infinite ocean and hope they come across the next Farcaster portal. Infuriatingly, this works. However, Raul needs to make a brief detour to distract some nearby Pax so they can sneak by. Meanwhile, Father-Captain de Soya and his crew spend two months hopping around to eight different planets, and Sam insists on telling Danielle about each one, even if they don’t matter, because he loves sharing the pain. Eventually, de Soya comes to Mare Infinitus where he hears about an attack a few months ago by a single man. This, de Soya correctly concludes, was Raul, and he’s delighted to have his first lead in months. Unfortunately, Raul was killed in the attack, or at least the book tries to make it look that way, but since Raul is the one “writing” the book, it’s not much of a fake-out. So join us as we delve deep into the relationship between Raul and Aenea, and into more Keats poetry and philosophy (finally!), and, most importantly, try to find out just why we’re being told about those fly-cycles!

Holiday in Handcuffs

This week, Sam rounds out the Winter Bizarre with the 2007 ABC Family movie Holiday in Handcuffs. Melissa Joan Hart (character name unknown) is always trying to please her very demanding parents, but this year she’s excited because she’s bringing her successful boyfriend to the family Christmas trip to a rural log cabin. However, after tanking a job interview, Melissa is dumped by that same boyfriend mere hours before they were supposed to leave. What’s a girl to do? Easy: Kidnap the nearest available man, in this case Mario Lopez (character name also unknown). This sets Melissa on a wild ride where she has to convince her family that the very-much-not-happy-to-be-there Mario is actually her boyfriend, so they can all just get off her back, okay. This is, obviously, a perfect plan, and through a series of truly convoluted events, and aided by some remarkably oblivious family members and a Mario Lopez who could really be doing more to escape, Melissa mostly manages to keep up the ruse. However, things start to get serious when Melissa sees how much her family all love Mario, and Mario develops Stockholm Syndrome. Crazily enough, the movie doesn’t end when Melissa gets busted for kidnapping, but somehow there’s still a lot more to the story. Other highlights include: A strange family tradition involving a “key master”, a surprise interest in art from both characters, some sporadic narration, and a drunken grandmother threatening to shoot police officers with a flintlock pistol. Seriously, this movie is just all the bananas.

Endymion – Part 3

We’re back in record time with part three of the 1996 Dan Simmons novel Hyperion. Danielle makes a much better showing this time, recapping the previous episode with aplomb. After letting Aenea escape after emerging from the Time Tombs, Father Captain de Soya is regrouping in the Parvati system with his Swiss Guard commandos to capture Aenea when she arrives. During the journey, Aenea and Raul spend some quality, and slightly creepy, time together. Skinny dipping is involved. Anyway, Aenea essentially improvises a plan where she threatens to kill everyone on her ship if de Soya doesn’t let her escape. Not willing to risk it, de Soya agrees, but then just tracks them to their next destination in Renaissance Vector, a heavily fortified Pax world, so it doesn’t seem like much was accomplished by this whole gambit. While waiting again for their arrival, de Soya starts having dreams about Aenea as his daughter, and this is where Danielle starts feeling completely over this whole story. Really, it only gets more infuriating from there, as the method in which the ragtag crew lead by a child escape yet again is absolute nonsense. It may be short, but this episode is especially dense with nonsense, raising perhaps the biggest question of the series so far: How the heck is the river Tethys still flowing?

Endymion – Part 2

After a spooky hiatus, Sam is back with more of the 1996 novel Endymion. The biggest fallout for Sam’s diversion into Slugs is that poor Danielle is left completely unable to recall anything that happened in the first part of Endymion. Luckily, not much went down, so it’s on to part two! Father Captain de Soya has returned to Pacem, and after a brief resurrection and Mass, he meets with some of the top brass of the Church. He’s informed that the Pax somehow knows that Brawne’s daughter Aenea is scheduled to emerge from the Time Tombs in the near future. De Soya is tasked to retrieve the child when she appears, or pursue the child wherever she goes until he does capture her, and then return her to Pacem. De Soya is assured that no harm will come to her, only that she will be saved. Despite finding that not so reassuring, de Soya heads out to take command of Pax forces to capture a child. Back in Endymion, Endymion (the person) is back from exploring the city. During dinner, Martin assures Raul that he’s going to be grossly outmatched and outgunned in his attempt to rescue Aenea. However, Martin has a secret weapon, that just happens to be the same secret weapon that always appears: the old Hawking mat! So Raul grabs his apparently essential tricorn hat, hops on the mat, and speeds through the labyrinth to sneak into Time Tomb valley. In the valley itself, de Soya readies his troops as a massive sandstorm rolls in, which can only mean one thing: DJ Shrike is on his way! So the big questions remain: Will Raul rescue Aenea? Can they escape the Pax? Will Danielle remember any of this next time? Hopefully we’ll find out!

Slugs

Spook Retorts is back, and this week Sam shares the 1988 cult horror movie Slugs! When people start dying in mysterious ways in a small town, it’s up to county health inspector Mike Brady to uncover the mystery. Why is it up to the health inspector to do this? That is among the many, many questions this movie steadfastly refuses to answer or even acknowledge. Anyway, Mike Brady first encounters the slugs’ work when he is called to help evict an old drunk. Why he was called to assist in an eviction is yet another mystery. The man, they find, has been reduced to a bloody skeleton, and it’s not long before more bodies show up. Mike eventually enlists the help of generic movie scientist John in his burgeoning murder slug theory, since John is an expert on slugs, and also everything else. It’s about halfway into the movie when Danielle and special guest Filip start to wonder how a slug invasion could be remotely threatening. Unfortunately, neither Sam nor the movie is able to demonstrate any way in which slugs could be threatening. Nevertheless, the slugs’ body count continues to rise, mostly by catching people who aren’t paying attention during sex, or by causing people to blow up their greenhouses/meth labs. So join us for this Spook Retorts romp into B-move fun as we see if an ordinary town can survive the slugs! Spoiler: the ultimate solution to the slug threat does way more death and destruction than the slugs ever would have.

Keep an ear out for a soon-to-be released Mind Duck Books episode where Filip, Danielle, and Sam all discuss the book Slugs on which this movie was based. Find Mind Duck Books on Twitter @mindduckbooks, Instagram @mindduckbooks, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Endymion – Part 1

This week Sam takes us back to Hyperion with the1996 Dan Simmons novel Endymion. Hyperion is back and Danielle is thrilled! Picking up around 274 years after the conclusion of the previous book, Endymion opens with some narration by a man named, wait for it, Raul Endymion. We learn that Raul grew up on Hyperion, did a bunch of odd jobs, and eventually ended up leading a duck hunting expedition that went disastrously wrong. Raul is blamed for the temporary deaths (remember those cruciform parasites? They’re back in a big way!) of the people he was leading on the hunt and is sentenced to death. However, just as he is about to be executed by just one of many overly complicated death machines to appear in this book, he is in fact only rendered unconscious. It’s also important to note that in the years since the “Fall” a new theocratic government has taken over lead by the Catholic Church and based around the gift of immortal life via the cruciform parasites which they now control. When Raul wakes up, he’s in the ruined city of Endymion (yup, it’s a city too!) and, notably, not executed. He is soon brought to see the nearly mummified, but still living, poet Martin Silenus who wants to give him a job. Brawne Lamia’s daughter, the One who Teaches, disappeared into the Sphinx Time Tomb when she was 12, over 260 years ago. Somehow, Martin knows she’s scheduled to emerge in just a few days and wants Raul to retrieve her and keep her safe from the Church and its military arm the Pax, who also somehow know this schedule and want to kill or capture her. Speaking of, Father-Captain Federico de Soya is pulled off his task-force hunting Ousters (still considered an enemy) to engage in some secret mission of the utmost importance. If you’re feeling lost in all of this, you should probably go back and listen to all the Hyperion episodes again; it won’t help, but they’re pretty fun!

Check out Sam and Danielle on the Mind Duck Books podcast episode about the Fall of Hyperion. Find Mind Duck Books on Twitter @mindduckbooks, Instagram @mindduckbooks, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Rock & Rule

This week Sam brings Danielle the 1983 animated rock adventure film Rock & Rule. In the distant future, mutant animals have taken over the planet, and they only want one thing: To rock out! Well, most of them do. Semi-retired super-rocker Mok (who looks like an old rat version of David Bowie) wants to find a magical voice that will activate the Armageddon key so he can summon a monster of destruction from another dimension for reasons that are spectacularly unclear. Anyway, when Mok’s magic ring (just go with it) detects the voice of down-and-out rock band member and rat singer Angel’s voice, he knows he’s found the right person. So he promptly kidnaps her and escapes in a zeppelin that transforms out of his home (this movie is bananas). They are perused by Angel’s band mates, including her kinda boyfriend Omar, who follow them to Nuke York on a rescue mission. However, Mok has both tricks and magic up his sleeve to thwart them, so they’re in for a real fight. If this movie seems light on plot, that’s because it’s heavy on rock with many original songs by Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and Iggy Pop. It may be short, but Sam certainly has a blast with this insane animated rock-venture, and Danielle is just amused to hear Sam reciting so many lyrics. There’s only one question left: Are you ready to rock?!

Crater

This week Sam brings on the Disney with the 2023 direct to streaming movie Crater. In the not too distant future, humanity has just gotten kind of bored with Earth and decided to invest everything in a new planet Omega. This movie is not about that, instead we follow some kids, and specifically Caleb, living in a mining colony on the Moon. Caleb’s father recently died in a mining accident, and since his mother died a few years earlier, Caleb is awarded a one-way trip to Omega, hooray! Only Caleb doesn’t want to go to Omega and leave all his friends behind. Friends like Dylan, Marcus, Borney, and the new addition, Addison. Caleb’s father always told him about how he used to take Caleb’s mother to visit a special crater, so Caleb and his friends decide to steal a rover and take a road trip during a meteor storm lock-down. They make their way across the moon’s surface, stopping briefly to play baseball (sure), and then also to use their oxygen tanks to play jetpacks (what?!). The jetpack game, predictably, goes awry, but once everyone is back safe inside the rover, they head to an abandoned model home showcase to restock. It should also be mentioned that, although this is a largely upbeat children’s movie, this society is freaking dark. We learn that the miners on the Moon are essentially indentured servants laboring for a ticket to Omega that never comes and passing down that burden of servitude to their children. There’s also no entertainment on the Moon, no books or music, the children only learn about mining in school, and are never allowed to leave the small colony dome. And lest you think Earth is doing any better, Addison recently moved to the Moon from Earth after her parents divorced and her mom took her younger brother to Omega (a 75-year trip in stasis) so then her dad took her to the moon to spite her mom. Absolutely terrible. Anyway, the children continue their adventure to the crater, but what they find there is totally bonkers, as is the ending of this movie which left both our hosts completely baffled.

Moonfall

This week Sam crashes to Earth with the 2022 Roland Emmerich film Moonfall. During a routine satellite repair mission—which astronaut Halle Berry (Sam forgot her character name) went on instead of her honeymoon—things go terribly wrong. A mysterious goo causes the space shuttle to lose power and Halle Berry is knocked out. Luckily, her astronaut buddy Ryan (née Brian) manages to land the shuttle safely. For his heroism, he’s promptly fired and loses his wrongful termination lawsuit against NASA. Years later, a man pretending to be a professor is convinced that the Moon has been knocked from its orbit and, oh by the way, is also a massive alien built mega-structure powered by a captured white dwarf star; ya know, normal stuff. No one believes him (obviously) even though NASA, now with Halle Berry in a leadership position, has noticed the Moon moving closer to Earth. This is, obviously, a massive problem, and the standard disaster elements of floods, meteorites, and earthquakes pummel Earth. Halle Berry calls on her old buddy Ryan to pilot a mission to bring an EMP bomb to the Moon to defeat the evil goo, which she is convinced is a malevolent, alien AI that, once defeated, will allow the Moon to correct itself back to its normal orbit. It’s at this point Sam’s head explodes with the terrible science and insane conclusions jumped to in this movie. There’s also a subplot where Ryan’s delinquent son is on a mission to take Halle Berry’s son to Colorado where her ex-husband is holed up along with Ryan’s ex-wife and her new husband. Apparently, Colorado is the safest place to be if the freaking Moon crashes into the Earth. Ryan and crew mount up to take the fight to the Moon, but can they defeat an alien AI? Why is the AI intent on attacking humans in the first place? What the heck is the Moon? We promise, the answers to all these questions and more are both forthcoming and extremely stupid.

Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao

This week the kangafus are back as Sam brings the 2002 movie Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao. What becomes most apparent in this episode is how bad of and idea it was for Sam not to prepare by listening to the previous Warriors of Virtue episode as he remembers almost nothing about the story, the characters, or even what he and Danielle talked about during that episode. This is extra unfortunate since this movie dives right in expecting you’re already a Warrior of Virtue expert as we rejoin Ryan Jeffers, now in Beijing for the international highschool wushu tournament. After the previous captain of the US team had to drop out, Ryan, who hadn’t even made the team, was brought in as the substitute captain, and already this film is bonkers. You might expect Ryan to be very good at wushu if they brought him in as the new captain, but he is, in fact, quite terrible. Anyway, after he and his buddy bop around Beijing for a few days, entirely unsupervised, Ryan once again finds himself in an abandoned building and being sucked through a portal to the land of Tao. There he meets Yasbin, who serves as the exposition machine of the movie and, true to purpose, tells Ryan that Tao is once again under threat, this time from Dogon and his absolutely incredible henchman. Seriously, that man henches better than anyone Sam has ever seen. Anyway, Ryan goes to see Queen Amythis (who knew Tao has a queen?) and learns that the Warriors of Virtue have been nearly all defeated and captured by Dogon. You’d think the mystical land of Tao would have someone better than a not-very-good-at-wushu teenager from Earth to help them, but nope, Ryan is the best they got apparently. If this plot all seems both dull and convoluted, don’t worry, as the movie progresses things make way less sense and thus are way more fun. Also, be sure to stick around to see Sam at the angriest he’s ever been as this film betrays him on a deeply personal level. Fun!